Cruising is popular all year round, and with two-thirds of the earth’s surface covered in water, we’re pretty sure there’s a destination out there with your name on it. It’s all about what your dream adventure looks like – hot or cold, laid-back or action-packed, filled with wine or family photos. We’re here to give you food for thought, as these handy questions will help you figure out just where to go on a cruise.
Who are you travelling with?
These days there’s very little that’s off limits to cruise ships. That said, we’ve got no doubt that there’s a destination suitable for you and your party – it all just depends on what you’re after.
If you’re travelling with your family and small children, we’re guessing you’ll want a cruise destination that’ll keep little ones active. Islands in the Caribbean are among top cruising destinations for family trips, as excursions here include watersports, cave tours, ziplining and tropical animal meet-and-greets. If your family is more interested in the opposite end of the excursion spectrum, the Caribbean islands work equally as well. Quiet days at the beach are always on the agenda here.
Let’s say your party just includes you and your partner, or a group of adults. River cruises through Europe provide an endless menu of wine tastings and foodie trips. Over in the Norwegian fjords however – whose scenery might be a tad low key and chilly for kids – there’s nature hikes and unrivalled views of the Northern Lights.
Does ship size matter to you?
This point might not seem important now, but ship size does matter in terms of where the ship will actually go, as some destinations only allow ships under a certain size.
Sea-facing destinations like Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are all accessible by ships of any size, while smaller spots like those in the Norwegian fjords, down the Nile River or parts of the Amazon will only be reached by more compact ships. The sort of trip you’re after – intimate, action-packed, filled with West End-quality entertainment – will dictate where you’re able to go.
What kind of climate do you want?
Beaches, bare shoulders, sun hats – there’s a lot that a hot destination has to offer. The sea nature of cruises means a huge number of destinations are sun-heavy – though, as evidenced through the point below, you’ll see that that’s not always the case. Destinations in the Middle East like Egypt and Dubaiafford seriously warm temperatures, as do the Caribbean and South America. If it’s sun cream and sand between your toes that you’re after, these hotspots will do the trick.
Like we were saying earlier, cruise destinations aren’t strictly limited to sunny spots. If the thought of bundling up doesn’t chill your blood, you can actually see some pretty incredible, rugged coastlines you wouldn’t otherwise encounter outside of cruise holidays. Cold destinations like Alaska and Scandinavia are hugely popular pit stops, as are the Baltics. You can even cruise down to Antarctica and penguin-spot from the deck.
Somewhere in the middle
For those of us who can’t pick between hot or cold, in between destinations like the British Isles, North America’s eastern coast in Boston and New York, and bits of Canada offer up a nice middle ground. Even the Mediterranean can have its cooler days, depending on what time of year you visit.
What excursions are you interested in?
When it comes to choosing a cruise destination, it’s all about the excursions. If you want to sunbathe on a white sand beach, you probably don’t want to head to Greenland. The same goes for dog-sledding, which isn’t really possible in places like Egypt and South Africa.
It’s key to know what kind of activities you want to do before choosing a destination. If it’s adventure you’re after, Mexico is a crowd favourite with zipline courses crisscrossing through the trees. For animal-watching, Alaska and the Galapagos Islands are no-brainers.
Equally, most cruise ships double as self-contained fun parks. So if it’s maximum at-sea days you’re after, you should consider long-haul journeys like around-the-world cruises or transatlantic crossings that start in the UK and dock in places like New York, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Shorter cruises with more stops will spend a lot of time in port, while a transatlantic crossing in the Far East will offer you more days at sea.
What are you looking for from a destination?
You’ve really got your pick when it comes to visiting historic sites onboard a cruise ship. You can see the terra cotta soldiers in China, the Acropolis in Athens, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or scenes from Nordic folklore in Iceland. Just about every page of the history books is covered.
Scenic river cruises are especially popular for romantic holidays – with stops in Paris, the city of love, seen as the ultimate. The canals of Amsterdam are pretty swoon-worthy too.
There’s nothing quite like the Caribbean for a beach holiday. The white sand shores of Jamaica, the mojito-soaked coasts of Cuba or the Bahamas and all its palm-lined glory are unbeatable when it comes to getaways in the sun.
Beaches are great for views, but they’ve got nothing on the Norwegian fjords, the Northern Lights or the breath-taking peaks in New Zealand. Canada and Alaska offer some seriously amazing cruise experiences for nature lovers, as does Boston in the autumn when the colour-changing leaves come out to play.
Once in a lifetime
We’d like to think that every cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but some of the best cruise destinations can quite literally only be reached by ship, making them that much more special. Juneau, Alaska, for instance, has limited roadways and so is only reachable by water or flight. And while Russia and the Nile River are open to the public, cruising here helps eliminate unnecessary paperwork and safety stresses that DIY travel sometimes affords.
When choosing your cruise destination, go with your gut – nobody knows your dream cruising spot quite the way you do.
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